A level colleges and what you need to know - a parent’s guide

Share article posted on July 10, 2017

A Level Retakes

A parent’s guide to A-level colleges

With your child successfully completing their school education, with any luck, they’ll have a raft of GCSEs to their name. Now it’s time for them to enter the next phase of their journey and step into the world of A-level colleges. But while this can be daunting for the new student, it can sometimes be even more daunting for you, the parents.

However, it’s the start of an exciting chapter for your child and it should be for you too. And at this stage parents still play an important part in helping young people make those important decisions about their future. To do that responsibly, you need to feel reassured about the college that your child chooses to study at.

Here we’ll try to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about A-level colleges that parents just like you ask, and tell you about what qualities and information to look out for before applying.

Should my child stay on at their school in Sixth Form?

Many students see the end of their GCSEs as the end of their school life for good. It should be down to the individual, but colleges are able to offer a wider range of A level subjects with specialist tutors. And just like schools, any college’s Ofsted or ISI inspection reports are available and should be looked at to establish the teaching standards available.

It’s worth remembering that there’s also a lot more freedom that goes with being at college. Being out in the real world will play a big part in the student's development and their preparations for university and working life. 

Will I have to pay for my child’s study?

That depends, there’s no doubt that private A-level colleges provide children with the best chance to fulfil their potential, it’s easy to see that 1-to-1 and small groups of students with courses designed and customised to fit their exact needs will flourish; all you need to do is look at the top results to see the reality of this. A private college will vary in costs and will offer various timelines of funding. If you’re not in the position to consider privately funded education then many A level college courses are free for students who are aged 16 - 18 and want to attend state colleges. There is extra funding available if it’s required that can cover, or help towards, the cost of books, materials and equipment. Other requirements such as travel, meals and even course trips can be funded as well if the student satisfies certain criteria. It all depends on what you can afford to invest in your child’s success.

Can I visit a college before my child attends?

It’s always best to do lots of research into any A-level colleges that might be chosen by your child (including Ofsted reports). However, many colleges will welcome parents to join their child for an application interview. It’s an ideal opportunity for you to learn more about the study programme as well as ask about, or discuss, any other areas of college life you might be worried about.

Will I get to hear about my child’s progress?

Students in most colleges get assigned a personal tutor and all colleges should send you regular update reports throughout the year, advising you of how well your child is doing. They’ll also contact you if there are any problems with any aspect of their college work or attendance record. Some private A-level colleges are able to provide much more in-depth and bespoke feedback to parents because of the one-to-one nature of study and the experience and academic prowess of the tutors themselves.

What if my child needs extra support?

Every good college will have a support network, offering students the opportunity to receive help with anything, if and when they need it. Student liaison teams provide informal help and advice on everyday college life, with careers guidance also available to help with those important first steps into work.  If your child has special educational needs or a disability, you should carefully check the provision by the SEND team, and specifically meet with the SENCO who is responsible for co-ordinating between the student, family and all professionals.

Your child’s personal tutor should also be a daily point of contact for them and can advise on and give support with any difficulties they may be having, be they course- or college-related. There will also be plenty of support for any personal problems as well. Trained counsellors may be available to help with issues affecting students both in and outside college and are usually available to talk confidentially on a drop-in basis.

Further education

While all these FAQs are relevant to every college, they’re equally pertinent to independent, private colleges too. On the understanding that you want or require private tutoring for your child in an environment with considerably smaller class sizes and individual attention, then it’s worth considering a tutorial college such as Westminster Tutors. 

One of the oldest and most respected private A-level colleges in London, Kensington-based Westminster Tutors offers A level courses, revision and retake courses and private tuition to give your child the help they need to achieve success. All students benefit directly from individually planned timetables and course structures together with one-to-one teaching.

While there are a generous amount of independent A-level colleges in London, none have the Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ reputation of Westminster Tutors - and few can match their A-level success rate. So when it’s time to look into A-level colleges for your child, contact Westminster Tutors on 020 7584 1288 or visit for more information.